Changing school practices : the impact of school development on primary and area school organisation and learning management : a thesis presented in fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Education at Massey University

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Massey University
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The thesis is an investigation of how principals construct meaning from experiences as they work through a School Development initiative. The study is not a formal evaluation of a particular strategy nor a comparison between different strategies. Its purpose is to understand more clearly the interface between principal thinking and action, and the development of coherent practices that lead to more effective teaching and learning in a school. Three case studies provide the data for the dissertation which focuses on the workings of schools following the major administrative changes in New Zealand education of 1989 in the establishment of self-managing schools. This context is further elaborated to consider the crucial role of the principal, how a School Development approach operates, and the conflicting positions of educational and reflective thinking, and managerial action. Throughout the case studies five propositions developed from personal experience and research findings are used to gain understanding and as indicators of principal thinking and action. The case studies occurred sequentially beginning with a residential design (Case Study A), having both residential and networked modes (Case Study B), and progressing to the inclusion of an audio-graphic component where there were large geographical separations between the groups of schools (Case Study C). Data gathering, use of teacher narrative within professional discussion, and a critical reflective stance were recognised as essential elements of the School Development approach. A commitment, by schools, to the ensuing hermeneutic practice tended to spread into other more casual staff interactions further supporting the concept of school as community. It is proposed that there are three critical periods for schools engaging in this kind of School Development activity. The first involves the link between personal and institutional development. A second involves networking and the third is when individuals and the school as a whole combine to celebrate successes. A visual metaphor constructed around sigmoid curves is presented for mapping and planning.
Content removed due to copyright: Stewart, D. (1994). More than just talk. New Zealand Prinicpal, 9(3), 26-27
School management, School administration, School principals, New Zealand education